James Dolan is not budging.
“Not at all,” the Knicks and Rangers owner said Thursday during an appearance on FOX-5 when asked if he might back up Madison Square Garden’s controversial policy barring attorneys involved in litigation against the company and its holdings from its venues. Dolan and MSG have come under particular fire for the use of facial-recognition technology in enforcing the policy.
“Facial recognition is just a technology,” Dolan said. “When I walked into the studio, did you recognize my face? Facial recognition. So technology just makes you better at it. The real issue that’s going on here is our policy of not letting attorneys who are suing us into our buildings, until they’re done suing us. When they’re done, they’re very much welcomed back. … Madison Square Garden is not a governmental entity. It’s a private company.”
Dolan had a 17-minute sitdown with Rosanna Scotto on “Good Day New York.” It was a relatively friendly setting for one of his rare media appearances. Dolan also fielded questions about ticket scalping, his teams’ solid performances this season, the future of MSG and was asked for an update on his band, “JD and the Straight Shot.”
But Dolan was pressed on the policy, as well as the heat he and MSG are receiving from elected officials and state government. He took no issue with New York Attorney General Letitia James, who sent a letter to MSG on Wednesday asking for information on its attorney ban policy. “The attorney general is just asking questions. We’re happy to answer questions,” he said. Dolan also said he had confidence in Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul when discussing possible Penn Station renovations and how that could impact MSG.
But Dolan did blast state lawmakers who have proposed legislation that would outlaw MSG’s policy. He said such a law would be “illegal” and that lawmakers should focus on “bail reform” and quality of life issues related to crime in the city. And he took aim at the “extremely aggressive” state liquor authority after it threatened MSG’s liquor license since it has barred the attorneys. Dolan suggested MSG might shut down liquor sales for a game and tell fans to deluge SLA chief Sharif Kabir’s office with complaints.
“The Garden has to defend itself,” Dolan said.
Dolan also indirectly responded to two recent reports related to MSG’s policy that have gone viral.
“There’s no way to tell which attorneys are working on the case and which aren’t,” he said. That was clearly in reference to the Girl Scout chaperone who was booted from Radio City Music Hall in November and separated from her 9-year-old daughter at a Rockettes show. The woman was subject to the ban because she is an attorney for a law firm suing MSG. But she not involved in the case or licensed to practice law in New York.
A follow-up Substack report by longtime NBA writer Ethan Sherwood Strauss then alleged MSG uses facial-recognition to harass non-attorneys who have criticized Dolan and suggested MSG’s use of the policy could jeopardize legitimate security protocols.
“Madison Square Garden, I believe, is the most secure venue in the country,” Dolan said.